EXCLUSIVE Pacific undersea cable project sinks after U.S. warns against Chinese bid

Pacific island governments considered U.S. warnings over security concerns about the involvement of a Chinese company in a World Bank-led project to lay sensitive undersea communications cables and did not award a contract. Formerly Huawei Marine Networks, HMN Technologies is majority owned by Shanghai-listed Hengtong Optic-Electric Co Ltd. HMN Technologies, submitted a bid for the $72.6 million project priced at over 20% below rivals Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), part of Finland’s Nokia, and Japan’s NEC

The East Micronesia undersea cable system’s design was intent on enhancing the communications within the island nations of Nauru, Kiribati and Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) through the provision of greater data capacity than satellites. However the project was paused due to security concerns including a connection to a cable that leads to Guam, a US. territory with substantial military assets. The World Bank has stated that it is working with the respective governments to determine the next steps. The Chinese foreign ministry has called for a non-discriminatory business environment for all countries inclusive of China while Washington has implored governments to make doing business with Chinese telecom provider Huawei Technologies difficult.